Last night, I was almost asleep when he tip-toed into the room, gently lay down beside me, and pulled me into his arms. The faint scent from his favorite soap wrapped itself around me, too, along with the 70-degree wine-country breeze that swirled in from the open window. He kissed my neck, once, and again, and ran his fingers ever so lightly down the length of my arm. His hand came to rest on my thigh.

I shivered, and prepared to turn over.

“No, my love,” he whispered, his hot breath scorching my neck, his tangible, urgent desire searing my soul. “I just want to cuddle. I just want to spoon.”

Did this really happen last night? Heck, no! I cuddled with my pillow and spooned with an iPad playing a sleep hypnosis meditation track. But as you read the scene, could you imagine it happening? Did the words inspire desire for something similar to happen to you? Did the mere possibility of such an occurrence make you feel good? Yes?

This is why I write.

I can’t remember a time for myself when words were not magical. As a two-year-old reciting the Lord’s Prayer to a small congregation, I became a star. As a first grader, words helped me have fun with Dick and Jane, imagine green eggs, and love ham. Placed inside a melody, they expanded my fourth-grade world and language skills with a song about “Señor Don Gato.”

In junior high in a small Kansas town, I discovered that I not only loved to read words, but was very good at manipulating them through writing, combining them in snappy, poetic sequences that made for sappy first-crush love songs and killer cheers like this tryout ditty:

“The Bulldogs are great, as you can see (clap, clap, clap, clap)./ We’ve got it made from A to Z!/ The Bulldog team, they’re really alive./ They don’t take no stuff, they don’t take no jive.”

Of course, I became a cheerleader by popular vote. Who could resist such swagger from a girl?

Around this time, at age 13 or so, I snuck into my older sister’s book collection and picked up a romance novel filled with knights in shining armor and happily ever after. My world, indeed my life, was forever changed. No longer was I stuck in a small town. With a trip to the library and the turn of a page, I could be in England, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, or in any of the 50 states. The author would describe a heroine with blonde hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin. But I employed editorial skills before knowing what an editor was, let my imagination flow, and quickly fixed that error. The heroine was dark with brown eyes and long, black, flowing hair. Why... she looked just like me!

It was between the pages of wonderfully written love stories—like my favorite, Cinderella—that I began to dream of a bigger life and believe that anything was possible. Who knew that all of those authors were my first literary teachers, preparing me for the day when I’d write happily-ever-after romances involving real-life situations, a touch of humor, a dab of suspense, and lots of spice that make readers feel good—like that guy did, when he crept into my bed last night....

Zuri Day is a bestselling, award-winning author. Her novel What Love Tastes Like was nominated for a RT Book Reviews award for best multicultural novel. Her next novel for Kensington/Dafina, Driving Heat, will be released in April 2015.

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